My first day in Cardiff as a 30 year old, female Masters Strength and Conditioning student from America was anything but glorious. After traveling for 3 weeks with a 70 pound (32 kg) backpack containing my ENTIRE life, I was thrilled to arrive in the city and finally get settled.
When the day finally came, I arrived absolutely exhausted and sore in the pouring rain. Welcome to Cardiff they said! But that wasn’t even the fun part – all the roads were completely closed due to a bicycle race, so my new roommate got to tell me, “You’ll have to walk to our apartment!”. It was a lovely (1.5 mile/2.4km) hike with the weight of my life on my back, but I was so excited to finally be here I think I was saying hello to everyone I passed!
Criss-crossing through race barriers, avoiding getting run over by the crowd and walking an extra (what seemed like) 3 miles, I finally found my new roommate who introduced me to my new home overlooking the bay. Hey, it may not be your typical student accommodation, but since I was coming from living in San Diego for the past 5 years, I either needed the sun or water – and clearly I was NOT going to get the sun that day!
After days of running errands, collecting my BRP card, finding the grocery store, trying to get a job, trying to open up a bank account (no chance without a bank letter) and numerous other chores – I felt relieved and mostly settled. Luckily, I came here knowing a few rugby friends so naturally, I forced them to hang out with me and THAT was the key to feeling like this was home.
The first weekend was taken up with the international enrolment process and making sure we were actually who we said we were, filling out paperwork, VISA checks and teaching us how to fit into the culture… probably a good thing, since now I understand that everything takes a litttttle bit longer here to do anything (#1 culture tip!).
The wait actually worked out in my favour though, giving me the chance to meet and introduce myself to other international students – including one from my own region! As another Midwestern girl she understood me and my over-the top friendliness from the start. Ever heard of “Minnesota Nice”? Well, I like to consider myself one of those. But, you tell me!
Fast forward to today’s to do list: searching for a bike, landing a part time job, and getting into the gym. Trying to stay up to par if I ever decide to play rugby again and making sure I walk the talk for my program as a Strength and Conditioning coach.
Only one more week until my program has enrolment and another 10 days before class! Is it weird that I am extremely excited to get back to school?!
Looking for more on moving to Cardiff from abroad? Check out our other blogs from international students.